Written Answers - Leaving Certificate Syllabus

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 730 No. 1

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  105.  Deputy David Stanton  Information on David Stanton  Zoom on David Stanton   asked the Minister for Education and Skills  Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn   the number of students who study mathematics at a higher level but choose to opt for a lower level paper when sitting the Leaving Certificate examination; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7957/11]

Minister for Education and Skills (Deputy Ruairí Quinn): Information on Ruairí Quinn  Zoom on Ruairí Quinn  All candidates in the Leaving Certificate examination have the option of changing levels at anytime, up to and including the day of the examination. In all subjects the numbers who enter for examinations and the numbers who finally sit those examinations are different. The same is true for the three levels [163]at which Mathematics are offered — Higher, Ordinary and Foundation. The figures for Mathematics in the Leaving Certificate 2010 are as follows:

Subject—Mathematics Higher Level, Number of entries = 10,516, Number of sits = 8,390;

Subject—Mathematics Ordinary Level, Number of entries = 40,093, Number of sits = 37,903;

Subject—Mathematics Foundation Level, Number of entries = 2,950, Number of sits = 5,997.

It will be seen, therefore, that some 20% of students who applied to sit mathematics at Higher Level in the Leaving Certificate in 2010 actually sat the examination at a lower level.

A major programme of reform in mathematics is under way in all second level schools since September last, building on the experience of 24 schools which began the programme in 2008. Project Maths is designed to encourage better understanding of mathematics, to reinforce its practical relevance to everyday life, and to ensure better curriculum continuity across the system. A key objective is to improve attainment levels in maths and to encourage more students to take the subject at higher level. The programme is supported by a comprehensive investment in professional development for teachers which will run to at least 2013. The initial experience in the 24 Project schools where students sat the Leaving Certificate in 2010 indicated a modest increase in the proportion who sat the subject at Higher Level — 18.7%, compared with 16.0% nationally.

Higher education institutions have collectively agreed to operate a bonus points scheme for Higher Level Mathematics for a four year trial period from 2012 to 2015 inclusive, with a review in 2014. A bonus of 25 points will be allocated to students who achieve a grade D3 or above in LC Higher Level mathematics. This pilot scheme has been specifically designed with the objective of maximising the numbers of Leaving Cert students who study for and sit the Higher Level maths examinations, and in particular of reducing the numbers of students who might drop down from Higher to Ordinary Level during the senior cycle.

Taken together, these initiatives are an important part of the strategy to upgrade skills in mathematics in order to better meet the needs of the Smart economy.

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